Why they're not always the best solution for your child.

By Emily Fromm, Illustration by Laura Ljungkvist
October 05, 2005
Credit: Laura Ljungkvist

Time-outs don't work for all kids, experts now advise parents. Their effectiveness depends on your child's age and temperament, says Kyle Pruett, M.D., clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale University's Child Study Center in New Haven, CT. He recommends using time-outs only with children over 4, who can verbalize their feelings and are beginning to understand right from wrong. "They realize that the time-out is not about losing a parent's love," he says. "It's about losing the privilege of Mom's or Dad's company because of something they did that was wrong."

Also, factor in your child's disposition before opting for a time-out. Some kids become even more out of control when left alone. Take a good look at your child's response, and consider whether the tactic is having the effect you want. Alternative solutions include making eye contact and having a quiet talk (for young kids), taking away privileges (for grade-schoolers), and even giving a big hug.

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Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the August 2001 issue of Child Magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.